Jobseekers are now more likely to back out of an accepted job offer than they were three years ago, mainly because they receive better offers elsewhere.
Gartner HR Research’s June 2022 survey found that 44% of over 3,600 respondents had backed out after accepting an offer, compared to 36% in 2019.
The analysis also found that only 59% of people who had recently accepted a job offer said they would make the same choice again. Candidates who reported they would repeat an offer decision reached a peak of 83% in 2021, after increasing steadily in 2019 (60%) and 2020 (70%), before decreasing dramatically this year.
The survey also found that nearly half of surveyed candidates say they are still open to other offers, while 28% say if they had to make the decision again, they would stay at their previous employer.
Job offer rejection
“Not only are candidates keeping their options open, but they are more likely to back out of offers after accepting,” said Jamie Kohn, director in the Gartner HR practice.
Gartner’s survey found that among the more than 3,600 candidates, one-quarter reported their reason for seeking a new role was feeling unappreciated in their current job. Candidates also said they started exploring new job opportunities believing they could command better pay elsewhere (25%) and feeling burned out in their current role (25%).
“Job changes appear to be motivated more by negative experiences with the current job than by the perception of opportunity elsewhere,” said Kohn.
However, once candidates start looking elsewhere, they have high expectations. Of the 1,600 candidates who said they have backed out after accepting an offer, 46% said they did so because they received a better offer.
“Competition for talent remains fierce with candidates still coming to the table with multiple offers – one in three candidates have turned down multiple offers during their recent job search,” added Kohn.
Of the candidates Gartner surveyed, 59% said they would be willing to forego a job with 10% higher pay for a job with better work-life balance. Just over half (53%) reported they would forego 10% higher pay for either a more interesting career path or more opportunities to learn new skills.
Another consideration for candidates is flexibility – 86% of candidates who can work remotely now, whether hybrid or fully remote, prefer to work remotely more than 50% of the time. Nearly half say they would forego 10% higher pay for flexibility in where they work.
“Though candidates may prioritise certain aspects of work over pay, companies should still be transparent about pay in job postings,” explained Kohn. “Nearly 50% of candidates stated they have decided not to apply to a role in the past 12 months because the job description did not include the salary.”
If a candidate has signed an employment contract and then backs out, the employer could, theoretically, sue for breach of contract. However, in practice this would rarely be worthwhile because the cost of legal action would outweigh any likely recompense.